29th Virginia Bowie Knife


Description and Photograph



     The knife and scabbard shown here has every characteristic one could hope to find in a Confederate Bowie knife.  The knife is nearly fifteen inches long from pommel to point and has a nine and three quarter inch double-edged spear point blade.  The blade is very well formed with a central ridge from point to ricasso.  The blade’s tang passes through a two and one half inch pewter cross guard and continues through the one piece wooden, hexagon shaped grip.  The grip tapers out slightly as it runs from the guard to the pommel.  The blade and grip style leave no doubt that the knife was designed primarily as a fighting knife by someone who knew knives very well.

     The knife is still sheathed in its near mint condition leather scabbard which has a tin throat band and a tin toe, both of which are very desirable Confederate characteristics.  The knife and scabbard’s style and construction leave no doubt that this is a Confederate era knife, but remarkably, this knife also has its specific history recorded on the blade!

     Deeply cut into the blade is the inscription “H C Clark” within a rectangle and “Wythe City Va August 16th 1861”.  The Wythe City of 1861 is today known as Wytheville, Virginia.  Henry C. Clark mustered into Captain Horne’s Company on July 23, 1861 at Mount Airy (The old town of Mount Airy  was located about 2.5 miles west of Rural Retreat, Virginia, on the Old Stage Road, now present day US Highway 11.  It is situated in an area locally known today as "The Summit") in Wythe County, Virginia for a period of one year.  His enlistment date of July 23 and the inscription date of August 16th engraved on the knife, indicates that the knife is a presentation.

     Captain Horne’s Company became Company B, 29th Virginia Infantry.  Private Clarke reenlisted for the duration of the War in April 1862.  He gave his life to honour that commitment.  After nearly three years of unimaginable hardship he was captured at Fort Darling, Virginia on May 13, 1864.  Fort Darling was a part of the Richmond defenses located on the south side of the James River.  Transferred first to Fort Monroe on the Virginia peninsula, he was transferred to Point Lookout, Maryland and then to the Federal prison at Elmira, New York on August 15th.  He did not survive long at Elmira; his end was a tragic one.  His brave heart deserved much better than to waste away in a filthy Yankee prison, but he died from chronic diarrhea on September 30th, 1864.  The only consolation is that he did not live to see his beloved Virginia subjugated.  His noble soul is gone, but his earthly remains still lie beneath the cold northern sod at gravesite 399 at Woodlawn National Cemetery at Elmira, New York.

     Every now and again an impeccably identified Confederate weapon enters the collectors market.  This knife is one of those truly extraordinary historical artifacts.  Its style, condition and history mark it as one of the very best Confederate knives in existence.     



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